The XJ Jeep Cherokees, with their unibody construction and boxy appearance, have a serious cult following. No wonder – they work well on and off-road and are built with some fantastic components straight from the factory. Still, like everything else, they can be improved, and for some it only makes sense to add a more powerful engine. We have often believed (and we know you do too) that this platform is ripe for installing a GM LS V-8 engine. That’s exactly what Chad Minor from Vista, California, also thought, but unlike us, Chad followed his idea and built this LS switch XJ over the course of 11 years or so. The end result is this reinforced, well-built 1998 XJ with a 2001 LS1 5.7-liter V-8 and more.
The 5.7-liter LS1 is the first of the Gen III pushrod V-8 from General Motors, and was found 1997-2004 Camaros, Firebirds, GTOs and Corvettes. From the factory, these engines produced power figures from 305-350 horsepower and 335-365 lb-ft of torque, each of which would be a huge jump over Jeep’s factory 4.0-liter I-6 with 190 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. Of course, the LS engine is not the only modification that Chad made on his XJ. Here are all the details.
Chad is not one to be left alone enough, so the 5.7-liter LS1 that drives his Cherokee is not in stock. The engine is bored to 0.020 over bearings, has 706 heads, an LS2 intake, a 92 mm Holley throttle body, a gentle cam, short headers, ARP rod bolts and a Holley Terminator X-MAX fuel injection system with 6.68 Pro digital speed. This built-in engine sits in front of a 2003 4L80E gearbox backed by an Advance Adapters Atlas II four-speed gearbox. At the front spins a 2008 Ford Superduty Dana 60 5.13: 1 gear on an ARB Air Locker. On the back, a Ford Sterling 10.5 spins the same ratio on an Eaton Detroit cabinet. The unibody frame is also fully plated along its length to withstand the LS and entone axes. As anyone with a standard XJ knows, it can be difficult to cool a larger engine with higher horsepower, but Chad was able to tune parts of the XJ unibody to fit a standard cooler for a 2013 Jeep JK, along with its Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) fan. , used from the factory in 2012 and later Jeep JK. This fan keeps the air moving through the radiator to cool the LS engine no matter what Chad throws at it, and he reports that the temperature stays at 200 degrees even when playing in the sand.
Like the original engine, the bearing suspension is long gone. At the front, the factory’s four-link was released in favor of a Clayton long-arm three-link suspension, and the rear leaf springs were removed in favor of a rear four-link. The movement of the suspension in all four corners is handled by dual-speed Fox 2.5 coilovers with Dual Speed Compression (DSC) adjusters. 2.5-inch air bumps can handle all hard bottoms. Chad built most of the jeep, including the steering, which uses parts from Barnes’ 4WD and Jesse Haines for the high-steering arms. The wheelhouse is from an S-10 and is ported for a Trail Gear ramassistans.
Safety and bumper
The interior of the XJ has PRP seats and racing harnesses to keep the riders safe. Telemetry is handled by the Holley Terminator 6.68 digital dashboard which is neatly grafted into the jeep’s dashboard. An exo-cage keeps the body’s lines true and the interior safe if a flop or rollover occurs. Bumpers, front and rear, are from Filthy Addictions.
- Main locations: SoCal Deserts
- Construction time: Jeep went from warehouse to what you see here during several constructions and about 11 years
- Engine: 2001 GM 5.7-liter LS1
- Gearbox: 4L80E
- Gearbox: Atlas II four-speed
- Low range ratio: 2.0: 1, 2.72: 1, 5.44: 1
- Crawl ratio: 69: 1
- Front axle / differential: Ford Super Duty Dana 60, 5.13 gears, ARB Air Locker
- Rear axle / differential: Ford Sterling 10.5, 5.13 gears, Detroit Locker
- Front: Three link with Fox 2.5 DSC coilovers and 2.5 air bubbles
- Rear: Four link with Fox 2.5 DSC coilovers and 2.5 air bubbles
- Steering: Barnes 4WD parts, Jesse Haines high-steering arms, S-10 gearbox ported for a Trail Gear Ram Assist
- Tires: 37×13.50R17 Cooper SST Pro
- Wheels: 17×9-inch Dirtylife Roadkill
- Warn VR 10 with Tacticall Offroad synthetic stairs
- Exo ‘bur
- Fully plated unibody
- PRP seats and harnesses
- Filthy Addiction bumper